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Old 08-08-2008, 12:57 PM   #1
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2019 27' International
2014 25' International
2006 23' Safari SE
Boulder City , Nevada
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2006 Safari Dometic RM2551... Crashes

I have not had any trouble with the RM2551 Dometic in the past. At one time the refrigerator was not cooling below the freezer and the wife discovered that you needed to leave space on the top shelf for proper cooling below the freezer... That was all. Always kept the freezer near 0 degrees F and the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees F.

We travel off asphalt roads 50% of the time. It is part of the trailer camping off road I call Rockdocking. Last year the wife found some flat white plastic pieces in the refrigerator that belonged to the door shelves that had broken off the top outside edges that support the shelves. Dometic replaced the shelves and shipped them to us as no cost. We are using the old ones until they break down and are unusable, which has not happened at this time.

On a recent trip we camped in Wyoming at Green Mountain. It is about 90 miles northwest of Rawlins, Wyoming. The steep grade road was two lanes wide, graveled and wash boarded for 5 miles in and 5 miles out. The first evening the wife noticed the freezer was at 32 degrees F. Whoa... I went outside to touch the system and it was hot. I did notice earlier in the day that the exhaust fan had not turned on, but gave it no thought at the time. We turned the unit off, and then back on and still no improvement. The second time I stuck my head into the exterior compartment, I smelled ammonia and saw on the lower left side, alongside the metal frame supporting the tubing... a yellowish discoloration and the source of the ammonia odor.

The next morning we drove down the mountain and into Rawlins to head home. We were half a day drive to Denver, Colorado and it had been a nice 18 day camping trip in Idaho and Wyoming. The ammonia leak was very slow and we did not loose any of the food stored to get back home. Opening the front refrigerator door, the door begins to fall out... the upper hinge on the door had now broken...

The warranty for the third year of service is "parts only" and Dometic requires an inspection by an authorized dealer to check out the problem. Yeap... the cooling system was leaking and the door hinge was broken. Dometic was standing behind the warranty by supplying the replacement door and cooling system. When we figured the cost of installation of the parts onto the refrigerator, it would not cost much more just to buy a new refrigerator and have it installed. I am now going to buy a new RM2551 and keep the parts being sent for spares in the future.

Mind me, this is not a complaint against Dometic. They have followed their warranty to the letter. It is just that a Dometic refrigerator and a wash board road can be hazardous to your system. I cannot think of a solution to prevent the cooling tubes breaking loose from its frame, but the front door does have a solution while moving. I am going to find a piece of dense rubber that will fit into the space at the bottom of the door to the frame. That will keep the door from vibrating on a rough road, which is probably how the door hinge fractured off its corner. I will see to it that the wife keeps the door shelves light, as well. I have to make that assumption why the door hinge broke were due to the road vibrations on the way out of the Green Mountain area.

When it is all finished, I expect to be short about $1100, maybe a bit more after taxes. This includes $200 labor for installing a new refrigerator with two year parts and labor, compared to $425 to install the "FREE" replacement parts sent by Dometic onto the old unit and 30 days or so warranty on the repairs. The smart gambler goes to the new replacement and takes the financial hit up front...

Other than the dense rubber to insulate the vibrations of the front door, I can think of no other preventitive options for travel on uneven roads. Any ideas out there for "beefing" up the current system?
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Old 08-08-2008, 01:28 PM   #2
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Traveling with Refrigerator ON PROPANE

Before we leave on a camping trip, I start the propane system to cool down the refrigerator. The next day, or two, we bring our frozen and cooled perishables, put them into the refrigerator and leave for our extended trips.

I know it has been discussed in the past about traveling with the refrigerator ON while traveling and gassing up. I am more concerned about food safety and the concern about my causing an explosion on the road or at a service station are minimal if non existant today. To some, we are living on the edge of dying or living. I will be the guinea pig. There is a better chance that the propane system will vibrate loose from the oven or tanks and create a potential hazard, than the ignitor/flame on the refrigerator.

I know it is a question that sides and lines have been drawn on the hamburger meat dripping in the freezer, but I watch the news every day for a report of a RV causing some disaster on the road... to no avail. Should someone slap me around for being so callous or not having diarrhea on a camping trip worth the risk???
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Old 08-08-2008, 01:36 PM   #3
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2005 25' Safari
Trabuco Canyon , California
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I don't have much to offer but situations like yours may be the only place extended warranties make any sense. The odds are in the house's favor, except when special circumstances tilt it to your favor. Lets say an extended warranty on a washing machine used by a family of 10. Or on the RV refrigerator of someone who travels extensively on washboard roads. Are there any suitable policies that you like-something offering a full replacement after x number of years?

Anyway one question for you-how has the rest of the trailer held up to date?
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Old 08-08-2008, 03:01 PM   #4
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1960 24' Tradewind
Anytown , Connecticut
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Ray- We too have had many of the same problems with our unit, three shelves have been replaced and one door hinge, knock on wood we have yet to spring a leak in the system. When traveling you may be very surprised at the 'activity' in your Airstream when on normal roads let alone off-roading. Just for giggles, set up a video recorder in your trailer the next time you go boondocking. Clamp you camera down real good and to make it more exciting, hang a tennis ball from a string off the ceiling. What a show! It really gives you an appreciation for how well our Airstreams are built even though we like to complain about them.
J. Rick Cipot
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